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Still being lied to

So it seems that Bill Shorten will be taking a proposal for a 50% renewable target by 2030 to Labor’s national conference in Melbourne this weekend. Accordingly, climate change is shaping up to be a major battleground for the next election – probably much to Abbott’s chagrin. On this argument, the Coalition starts from behind. Tony Abbott would prefer the discussion to be neutralised and as a result the government is stepping up the rhetoric to attack Labor’s history and position on the climate change front. As a result, the laughably-named Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt, has been working the airwaves furiously to poison the national consciousness.

Shorten’s laudable goal, as those who have been watching the development of renewable energy and its increasing prevalence in the energy mix of countries and even Australian States will know, is technically not difficult. Labor describes the proposal as “ambitious”, but the main challenge with achieving this is political. The primary difficulty is that the Australian people are skeptical about the ability of renewable energy to be a practical, economical choice for energy generation, and consecutive conservative governments have sought to play up on that uncertainty at the behest of their backers and overlords, the existing fossil fuel oligarchies. The Australian people have been lied to from the outset.

They’re still being lied to now. Greg Hunt has been given saturation coverage on news media outlets, parroting the Government’s official response to the reports of this labor policy proposal. The detail of Hunt’s interviews and discussions has varied slightly from broadcast to broadcast, but the salient points remain the same. Unfortunately but predictably, the Government’s official stance – and thus Hunt’s answers – is a farrago of lies and mistruths that often pass without challenge. The ABC is not immune to this mistreatment: in several ABC news interviews Hunt has made the same baldfaced statements without being challenged. The ABC can’t be blamed for this. In an already fraught environment with the national broadcaster under continual threat, challenge and attack by our government, it is vital for the ABC to retain an appearance of impartiality for its news arm. Rather, the problem is with our laws and systems that contain absolutely no penalty for a Government Minister to lie to a reporter, and to lie to the Australian people, so long as they can get away with it. A Minister can lie with impunity – as long as their lie goes unchallenged.

This is a problem, as we head into an election year in 2016. Standard practice in news reporting is to describe the news item of the day, interview appropriate persons involved with the policy or proposal or scandal, and drill into the detail to as shallow or deep an extent as time allows. Then, in the interest of “balance”, journalism will often seek a response from the other side. In politics, this brings us to a situation where the Coalition, with the benefit of incumbency, can coast with few policy announcements, leaving Labor few opportunities to respond. Labor’s situation is more challenging. Winning back government from opposition is difficult and requires a constant stream of policy announcements. When the last word in a news report comes from a Coalition minister in response, far too often the sound bite the audience will remember is the government’s position. If that position is in error, the voters have been misled.

A news reporter is not in a position to challenge a statement made. That comes down to us – the concerned public. It is incumbent on us to be informed, and to inform others who might otherwise be taken in by the lies.

Because the Coalition adheres to the concept that repeating a lie often enough will convince people to take it as truth, their talking points in response to Labor’s proposed policy are consistent and we will hear them trotted out regularly over the coming weeks. Each one of them is demonstrably untrue and the best response progressives can make is to have ready clear, concise explanations as to why each Coalition argument is based on a falsehood. With that in mind, what follows is a precis of the Coalition’s talking points on Labor’s proposed renewable energy target and ETS.

The centrepiece of the policy will be a new carbon tax.

“Carbon tax – they’ll call it an emissions trading scheme, but it’s the same thing, with the same effect, the same hit on electricity prices…” In a recent interview, asked several times for clarification, Hunt fell back on the government’s agreed attack line: that an ETS is just a carbon tax by another name. This was not true the first time around and it is certainly not true now. The reason why is very simple.

Under a carbon tax, every emitter pays for their emissions. Every tonne of carbon carries a cost. The incentive is obvious for the business to reduce its carbon emissions and pay less tax. All taxes raised go to the government, for use in whatever way it deems appropriate. The government may choose to return some of the taxes to companies in the form of incentives and subsidies, but to do so is to devalue the impact of the tax. Over time, unless you force changes to the tax rates through parliament, the price of carbon remains the same.

In contrast, under an ETS, businesses are permitted to release carbon emissions up to a cap, without any cost to them. If a business holds sufficient carbon permits, it can emit as much carbon as it likes with no financial cost at all. If it emits less carbon than it holds permits for, it can trade the excess permits on the market, allowing other businesses more latitude to emit carbon. This brings you to the question of how the business gets the permits in the first place.

Under the Gillard government’s ETS, initial permits were allocated for free to relevant industries to shield them from the immediate impact. Other organisations were forced to purchase initial permits. Over time, under an ETS, the number of permits available is regulated to decrease, providing incentive to companies to reduce their carbon emissions over time: as time goes on, carbon permits become more expensive, increasing the benefit to the company if it can trade its excess permits on the market, and increasing the cost of permits if it does not.

Due to compromises with the Greens required to get the legislation through a hostile senate, the price of permits was set for an initial three year period and the permits were not eligible to be traded, thus making the scheme’s initital appearance close enough to a “tax” to make it unworth arguing the semantics of “tax” and “ETS”. This led, in short order, to Labor being lambasted as a high-taxing regime (ironic, coming from the party which would soon implement a much more oppressive tax regime) and Julia Gillard as a liar.

Labor has learned its lesson on this front. It is fair to assume its new ETS will not commence with a set price and untradeable permits. For the government to claim that Labor’s new ETS will be “exactly the same” as a carbon tax is misrepresentation of the highest order. The ETS will be a different thing, with a very different effect, working in a very different way.

Greg Hunt knows this very well. This is the same Greg Hunt who won an award for co-authoring a thesis about implementing an ETS in Australia. Until recently some on the left held a grudging respect for Mr Hunt, being forced to toe the party line against his own documented beliefs, and pity, for being one of the few realists in a cabinet laced with flat-earthers. His recent performances have shown that he is a thorough convert to the Coalition’s paradigm that somehow a market-based scheme is far inferior to direct governmental intervention. As a result, his respect has died, leaving him only with pity.

Regardless of his personal beliefs, however, Greg Hunt knows very well that an ETS is not remotely similar to a carbon tax, and to claim that it is is to deliberately mislead Australian voters.

A higher renewable energy target will increase electricity prices

The talking point that a renewable energy puts upwards pressure on power prices seems an article of faith for the Coalition. This also is demonstrably untrue. ETS or carbon tax aside, all experience in Australia to date disproves the idea that renewable energy competition can push the price of electricity up. All models and analysis, including the government’s own modelling, show clearly that renewable energy puts competition and downwards pressure on energy prices. The only group that this hurts is the big energy generators and distributors, who coincidentally are big benefactors of the Coalition.

An ETS did have the expected outcome of pushing up power prices from carbon-heavy power generators. Gillard’s government allowed for this and overcompensated consumers for the expected price increases.

The one thing likely to place significant upwards pressure on energy prices is the effect of Queensland’s previous, liberal government opening its gas markets to export. The result is that gas, one of the major energy sources for much  of Australia’s eastern seaboard, will now be traded at the significantly higher international price rather than the domestic one.

The carbon tax “didn’t work”

Perhaps the most egregious lie of all is the continued insistence by the Government and Greg Hunt as their mouthpiece that the carbon tax was ineffective. It has been claimed that during the carbon price, emissions continued to increase. This is true. What is wilfully ignored in that discussion is that, under the influence of the carbon price, emissions rose less than they would have otherwise done. In fact, the carbon price was restricted to a relatively small part of Australia’s economy. In sectors where the carbon price applied, carbon emissions decreased markedly. (And, unsurprisingly, upon the repeal of the carbon price, carbon emissions in these sectors immediately increased again). Hunt has argued that Australia’s carbon emissions were already falling prior to the introduction of the carbon price and that the ETS had little effect. This also is untrue. In short, the government’s overblown claims about the carbon tax are almost universally deliberately misleading or even entirely untrue. The carbon price, even at a high price per tonne and acting like a tax, had little effect on the overall economy, destroyed no country towns, and was being remarkably successful at reducing Australia’s emissions.

A new ETS could do the same again.

Labor is inconsistent

Greg Hunt foamed that the parliament had “…just voted for stability in the renewable energy sector…”, referring to the recent passing through the parliament of a reduced renewable energy target for Australia. This criticism popped its head up but has now subsided; perhaps the Coalition has decided that talking about “the politics” is a little too fraught to be a certain winner. In any case, the fact that Labor reluctantly supported the government’s cut of the renewable energy target to 33,000 GW does not mean that Labor is inconsistent. Labor was able to forge a compromise position for the sake of settling the argument in the short term and giving certainty to the existing renewable energy market, but it was clear that this figure was not Labor’s preference.

Frankly, it seems amazing that Labor was able to secure any kind of a compromise from this government, after more than a year of the government steadfastly refusing to budge from its original position. As this government has shown, any policy agreed to under one government is not sacrosanct to the next.

The truth shall set you free

Armed with the facts, it becomes easier to counter the government’s wilful misinformation. Not easy, of course: there are none so blind as those who will not see, and for many in the Australian public the prevailing narrative being told by the government is emotionally compelling. But there are some who may be persuaded by actual facts and evidence. It is for these people that we must be prepared to call it out when we see the government deliberately distorting history and building straw men on Labor’s commitments. We must be able to point out that they have been lied to, and they are still being lied to.

 

57 comments

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  1. jaqui

    Thanks for this excellent article. So clearly written, easy to retain all your info on ETS, Carbon etc.
    Also really good analysis of what’s happening to ABC. So many dissing it lately, but they’re walking such a fine line with every LNP wanting to be an Emporer….
    Cheers

  2. Roswell

    I agree.

  3. Andreas Bimba

    A carbon tax is simpler, easier to administer, less prone to fraud and more effective at reducing emissions than an ETS. The man who has done the most to investigate and alert the world to the danger of global warming, Professor James Hansen also recommends that each nation adopt a carbon tax but that the proceeds be fully refunded to citizens equally which certainly helps to quiet any opposition.

    As for the Liberals, their direct action policy was designed to please the fossil fuel energy sector and it’s working, our CO2 emissions are now trending upward after coming down during the previous Labor governments carbon tax.

  4. Trevr

    Mmm Greg Hunt, What a ***T. Integrity, truth, honesty, these are strange commodities in the Political world. A world of arguement and gotcha, A world of repeated slander. A world where spivs shake hands while the unshaken hand hide a knife. A world where the skeletons in the cupboard count more than the ability to do the job. A world where strategic alliances leave a trail of dead brown dogs. A world where the voters are suckered, election after election. A world where a voice in the wilderness is there to remain. If politics changed anything it would be outlawed. Don’t vote it only encourages the spivs. More slogans that you can poke a stick at. As Uncle Johnny stated, “Democracy, you get to participate once every 3 years” so suck it up. There is something grossly wrong here, but then I realise that the rules were written by the rulers to make sure they remain the rulers. That’s Politics Australian style. A liar’s paradise.

  5. SimonC

    The environment and the economy are a fine balance and to lean heavily to one side or the other is a dangerous approach to the problem.
    Germany has the highest access to renewable energy but also the most expensive energy on the planet.
    I believe that true entrentrepreneurs such as Musk and others will and are curbing the control of the oil companies and as such have identified the real issue . To punish future generations and doom them to a lesser standard of living because of todays political contraversy is the height of arrogance .

  6. jane

    Great post as usual. Articulate, truthful and honest

    For Labor to overcome the Liars mendacity, they’ll have to be just as disingenuous and preface each statement with “Of course the Liars/government will say…..” followed by “However this is the truth of the matter…..
    ..”, thus making the Liars look mendacious and untrustworthy before they say what Labor predicts they’ll say.

    For us, it’s not even a tiny hop to know that when a Liar opens his/her mendacious mouth, a veritable Niagara Falls of lies, misdirection and propaganda will cascade forth, but a lot of people either can’t or don’t believe it.

    Labor’s unenviable job is to persuade them to accept the truth and inspire them with policies that will return Australia to a country that still believes in a fair go for all, including those who are fleeing injustice, persecution and war and look to us for help.

  7. Kaye Lee

    I just wish that ONE reporter, when Greg Hunt waffles on about higher electricity prices, had the foresight to ask him what will be the effect on the cost of living of raising the GST. If we want to talk about great big taxes on everything then let’s get real. When Hunt says it will be mums & dads and pensioners paying for the “carbon tax”, remind the baby-faced assassin that those same people will have to pay 5% more for EVERYTHING, not just electricity, under HIS party’s plan.

  8. amphibious

    Only just found this site on the recommendation of our librarian – good articles with points well made.
    The most sensible way to both reduce energy use AND increase government revenue is to tax the energy input of any given item.
    This would radically simply the relationship between ones individual behqaiour and political beliefs – abolish at a stroke the need for thousands of pages of tax legislation, terminate the careers of tax aoidance experts (listen to them squeal – they’d have to do something more useful,like pick oakum) and be totally, unavoidably, inescapably equitable.
    It would also inevitably lead to decentralisation of the Great Wens of Syd/Mel and similar conurbations because instead of being subsidised they would pay the true cost of their existence, water, food & electrcity sucked into the concentrated areas from the countryside.
    Most of the world’s problems, in essence, arise from this urbanisation – for the first time more people lie in cities worldwide than elsewhere.

    For example if diesel/petrol were $10 litre fresh, unprocessed food would be taxed on the input from the tractor to plough, plant & harest, the transport to market and the shopkeeper’s costs in getting to work. Onerous at first glance but consider if a potato is bought from the greengrocer it would attract X tax; if bought as chips it would be the original X plus the energy costs of “elaborately transforming” (the ABS phrase for manufacturing) it but if an upmarket restaurant were sering it as potato consome then X plus…plus..plus.

    .

  9. Kaye Lee

    “There are lies, damned lies and Alan Jones statistics. The figure with which the climate change sceptic shock jock misled the million-odd viewers of the ABC’s Q&A program last Monday was a whopper.

    Jones was arguing against renewable energy, on the basis of cost.

    “Eighty per cent of Australian energy comes from coal, coal-fired power, and it’s about $79 a kilowatt hour,” he said. “Wind power is about $1502 a kilowatt hour.”

    The statement was spectacularly wrong, in a couple of ways. First and least because he confused kilowatt hours with megawatt hours, which made all his figures wrong by a factor of 1000.

    But even allowing that this confusion was a slip of the tongue, he exaggerated the cost of wind power twentyfold. By Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s most recent calculations a new wind farm in Australia would cost $74 a megawatt hour.

    “A new large-scale photovoltaic project would cost $105,” says the firm’s Australian head, Kobad Bhavnagri. “A new coal-fired power station would cost $119. And a new gas base-load station would cost $92. So both wind and solar are already cheaper than coal.” ”

    https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2015/07/25/the-true-cost-green-energy/14377464002171

    PS Welcome amphibious 🙂

  10. ozfenric

    “1502” is oddly specific. I’d be interested to know where he’s got that figure from. Either he’s pulled it from somewhere and completely misinterpreted what’s being quoted, or he’s made it up and added an extra factor of specificity to make the number sound trustworthy.

  11. Harquebus

    Renewable energy collectors do not return the total embodied energy used in their manufacture, construction and maintenance. They are a waste of precious fossil fuel energy which, is concentrated and stored solar energy and should be preserved as much as possible. No cheap holidays to Bali for example.

    For every tonne of solar Pv panel produced, there are four tonnes of toxic byproducts currently dumped into Chinese communities thus bringing down the price.
    There is not one stage of the mining and processing of rare earths used in magnets that is not toxic or destructive to the environment. Also mainly processed in China.

    Taxing energy only hurts those at the bottom of the economic heap. I would introduce quotas and if someone is frugal enough with their energy, they can sell their surplus. Taxing energy allows the wealthy to continue their destructive lifestyles.

    Advocating renewable energy collectors only delays doing what is required, yes, population reduction and serves to make matters worse.

    Bill Shorten has once again displayed his ignorance and demonstrated another reason why Labor is not worth voting for.

  12. ozfenric

    Harquebus, despite my clear and by now well-known opinions on the subject of renewable energy, this article does not attempt to make claims as to the value or benefit of renewable energy in the fight against climate change. Rather, I seek only to point out the various mistruths by which our current government would seek to redefine the public discourse. By all means, we should have a debate about the merits of renewable energy and our current energy-intensive lifestyle, but let’s do it on the basis of truth and data, not lies intended to forestall the discussion before it’s even begun. The facts are incontrovertible: the ETS did bring down carbon emissions, a renewable energy target does bring down power prices, an ETS is certainly not a carbon tax.

  13. Keith

    The latest paper by James Hansen et al paints a very bleak future if we continue to use fossil fuels as we have been.
    Already nature is displaying some extreme situations such as San Diego received more rain in a weekend (2015) than for all the Julys added together since records were kept; the Atacama desert in Chile was flooded with the loss of life and infrastructure, and in one 24 hour period 500,000 acres were burnt in Alaska at the end of June 2015.
    Research into the methane blowholes found late last year show they are pingos. A pingo being a mound of earth which covers ice, the ice melts and gas fills the void. The gas pressure builds up too high and an eruption takes place; it being temperature related..

    The James Hansen et al paper:

    http://www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/15/20059/2015/acpd-15-20059-2015.pdf

    Here is an interpretation of the paper:

    http://robertscribbler.com/2015/07/24/warning-from-scientists-halt-fossil-fuel-burning-fast-or-age-of-superstorms-3-20-feet-of-sea-level-rise-is-coming-soon/

    Labor needs to push harder for a very strong climate change policy.

  14. Kaye Lee

    How can we expect to have any sort of sensible conversation when our politicians believe what they read in the Murdoch press?

    Robert Borsak is a member of the NSW Legislative Council from the Shooters and Fishers Party. In our infinite wisdom, we have installed him until 2023.

    When speaking about coalmining to the Council in 2011 he said (from Hansard):

    “Let me use the Federal Government’s own Productivity Commission figures on the cost of power generation in 2010. Coal-fired power stations cost $79 per kilowatt hour. Gas fired power stations cost $97 for the same kilowatt hour. Wind farm power generation costs $1,502 per kilowatt hour, which is 19 times more expensive than coal. And cop this—solar power cost is $4,004 per kilowatt hour, which is 50 times the cost of coal-generated power”

    What the Productivity Commission report actually said was:

    The Electric Power Research Institute (2010) reported estimates of the LCOE of various sources of electricity in Australia, including:

    coal-fired electricity (without carbon capture and storage) — A$78–91/MWh

    combined-cycle gas turbines (without carbon capture and storage) — A$97/MWh

    wind — A$150–214/MWh

    medium-sized (five megawatt) solar PV systems — A$400–473/MWh.

  15. Keith

    Harquebus, you may be interested in this paper showing how major fossil fuel companies knew about the damage they’re products do to the atmosphere. The Natuna extensive gas field off Indonesia, known about since 1981 has not been utilized due to the high dispersal of CO2 with the other gases. The concern being the damage done to the atmosphere should the CO2 from the Natuna gas field be released.

    In other words, deniers have been hoodwinked by the very industrys they seek to argue for.

    http://www.ucsusa.org/global-warming/fight-misinformation/climate-deception-dossiers-fossil-fuel-industry-memos#.VZ9DzPmqqkp

    Also, in 2013 and 2014 there were 24,000 peer reviewed papers published in relation to climate change, only 5 were skeptical of climate change.

    http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/how-climate-change-deniers-got-it-very-wrong 99.9%

    In relation to solar energy more energy is created than used in manufacture, I’m not sure about wind turbines. Though logically with more renewable energy being used, that energy can be used to create further devices for utilizing renewable energy sources.

  16. ozfenric

    Kaye, it appears that Paul Sheehan in an opinion piece accidentally wrote the incorrect figures of 1502 and 4004 (rather than 150-214 and 400-440). This article has since been corrected, but not before a bevy of the usual suspect climate deniers jumped on it and claimed these figures. Borsak was probably quoting from one of his sources who has, through chinese whispers, ended up with the incorrect figures. An accidental error, compounded by the confirmation bias of people just looking for figures to support their claims, and now it will probably never die.

  17. Harquebus

    Ozfrenic.
    Technically, you are correct however, as someone who is at the bottom of the economic heap, an ETS hurts me disproportionally so, from my perspective, it is a tax. The ETS did not reduce energy consumption by the wealthy. Only quotas can do that.
    Thank you for pointing out untruths. I am only doing the same.
    Bill Shorten and Tony Abbott are both ignorant fools.

    Keith.
    I am aware of the revelation that energy corporations were aware of the damage they cause since the 1980’s and I do not favor fossil fuels. They are a vital resource and must be conserved.

    The holy grail of the renewable energy industry is to grow the renewable energy generating base using renewable energy alone. This concept violates the laws of physics which, trumps legislation every time.

    I also follow Robert Scribbler.

    Cheers.

  18. Kaye Lee

    Yes I understand that but when he said “Let me use the Federal Government’s own Productivity Commission figures” he was actually using figures he read in the Murdoch press. One should always check the validity of one’s sources ESPECIALLY if you read it in the Australian or the Telegraph. It shows the power Murdoch has that this was not even vaguely questioned by politicians and other media commentators on the “that can’t be right” test. Surely someone addressing parliament on coalmining should have done a little research rather than just blithely accepting what he reads in the paper. It is very hard to challenge the lies when we are led by such people.

  19. Morpheus Being

    “The truth is out there” – not too sure who said it.

    Great article. The cost per megawatt of renewable energy is rapidly dropping as more comes on line and new technologies come to commercial use. Humanity has to stop using coal for energy production because our oceans are at their limit for absorbing CO2. It is going to cost a lot of shekels to stop using coal, and swapping to renewables. Australia should be at the leading edge of research because of our natural abundance of sunshine, wind, wave and geothermal energy – all being a form of solar energy. Now with a 50% increase in GST proposed, the effects on current energy costs is going to be substantial. The cost of energy is important, as already there have been deaths due to lack of heating this year.

    15 years ago, I installed a small solar system, and slowly expanded as I could afford. My out-of-pocket expenses over this period has been $5000 – for a replacement battery bank, making an annual cost to run my house (mostly normal with fridge, freezer, washing machine, dishwasher, tv, dvd player, sound system, computers and modems) of about $300. My daughter with similar house is paying around $1500. My original reason for the solar system was that the mains supplier wanted $110,000 payable over 10 years plus the quarterly energy costs. I don’t have a toaster or electric frypan or hair dryers or electric heaters as they are real energy hogs.

    Renewable energy can work. The biggest issues are energy storage for long periods of overcast weather. I would really appreciate the corporation responsible for funding energy research to pour money into this area.

    Even if the change to renewable energy is expensive initially, at least we have a chance to have a planet to live on. If we continue on current trajectory of CO2 increases, we had better find another planet to live on, and work out how to move there.

  20. Harquebus

    Using costs to justify renewable energy is irrelevant whilst renewable energy collectors are still manufactured using fossil fuels. Renewable energy collectors manufactured with renewable energy alone will result in a net energy loss and consequently, also an economic loss.

    Keith.
    Thanks for the links by the way.
    Cheers.

  21. ozfenric

    Harquebus, I am still not convinced of your assertion that renewable energy generators do not repay their own invested energy. You are effectively saying that if we only had access to renewable energy generation, we could not afford to create more: that solar / wind etc. provides insufficient energy to build more solar / wind generators. I doubt that this is the case. Every renewable energy source has an EROEI of over 1, which means that you get more energy out than you put in. Certainly, it’s not as energy dense as fossil fuels and some of the profligate energy expense of our current society could not be sustained without producing a lot more energy generators. But this is a very different proposal to the claim that once the fossil fuels run out we’re all instantly doomed.

    I would be interested to hear how the ETS hurt you disproportionately. I’m sorry if it did (as a Labor / Greens voter, I bear a small part of the responsibility for it being legislated in the first place). According to legislation you should have been overcompensated for any increased power / market costs. Regardless, even if you were forced to pay huge amounts more on your power, this still doesn’t make an ETS a tax in operation nor effect.

  22. Harquebus

    “there is not enough surplus energy left over after construction of the generators and the storage system to power our present civilization.
    The problem is analysed in an important paper by Weißbach et al.1 in terms of energy returned on energy invested, or EROEI – the ratio of the energy produced over the life of a power plant to the energy that was required to build it. It takes energy to make a power plant – to manufacture its components, mine the fuel, and so on. The power plant needs to make at least this much energy to break even. A break-even powerplant has an EROEI of 1. But such a plant would pointless, as there is no energy surplus to do the useful things we use energy for.
    There is a minimum EROEI, greater than 1, that is required for an energy source to be able to run society. An energy system must produce a surplus large enough to sustain things like food production, hospitals, and universities to train the engineers to build the plant, transport, construction, and all the elements of the civilization in which it is embedded.”
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2014/08/22/catch-22-of-energy-storage/

    “The study found that the current rate of energy consumption of modern humans is around 24 times that of hunter gatherers. It said the rate of net discharge between mankind’s metabolic needs and the remaining chemical stores is “obviously unsustainable”.”
    http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/humans-face-extinction-if-plant-destruction-continues-laws-thermodynamics-have-no-mercy-1511026

  23. Harquebus

    ozfrenic
    Fossil fuels will never run out. They will only get harder to retrieve to the point where, the EROEI reaches close to 1. Some might still be viable in order to produce lubricants and medicines. It is the production of herbicides, insecticides and fertilizers that will have the greatest impact on mankind. Try growing vegies without fertilizers and pesticides etc.

    A wealthy person does not need any more energy than I do and yet, it is us poor that pays a higher proportion of our income on food and energy. The compensation that I received was overtaken by price increases yonks ago.

    Only a poor person sees the ETS as a tax. The wealthy easily shrug it off.

  24. ozfenric

    Hi Harquebus, I will read your linked sources (I have previously read the first of them), but it looks to me like there’s two major fallacies to the argument. The first key, I think, is “our present civilization”. There is nothing sacrosanct about our current civilisation that says it must be retained. There is a lot wrong with the profligate way that our inequitable civilisation operates and we are seeing a continual upwelling of discontent with its excesses even without considering either peak oil or climate change. I see no problem with us adopting a lower-energy culture, both through increased energy efficiency and through forgoing some of the worst excesses of capitalism. That does not mean going as far as living in self-sufficient communes. We need to bring our civilisation into an equilibrium with energy generation – one where the required EROEI for sustaining the way we live is met by the EROEI of (increasingly efficient) renewable power sources.

    The second key is that there are few limits to the number of generators we can build. If it takes two solar plants to return the same energy as a single coal plant (my numbers are not to scale) then, so long as you can build the solar plant with a positive EROEI, you can build them as required. They require no consumable supplies once they’re built, so unless they’re particularly fragile they will return the energy invested given sufficient time. And if you can build two large-scale solar plants, perhaps you can instead build two thousand solar generators and install them on buildings, roadsides, consumer devices. This removes the need to distribute the power from source to where it’s needed and further increases efficiency.

    There are two limitations, as I see it. First is that energy providers are accustomed to much higher profitability on their generators. The change to a distributed, self-sufficient-plus-a-smaller-amount energy network will cost them dearly. I find it hard to muster much sympathy. The second limitation is where current technology requires trace minerals and materials that might run out. Here is where we need to continue innovation to produce renewable generators requiring both less energy and less rare resources to make. There is already much investment going into these areas, and that’s with a lack of assistance from (and in some cases, active resistance from) governments.

  25. Harquebus

    ozfrenic.
    I appreciate your arguments however, without a genuine technological breakthrough, the renewable solution only makes matters worse and delays doing what is required. I do not wish to gamble my life on something not thought of yet.
    A low energy lifestyle would definitely help however, our politicians and corporations are not yet ready to abandon economic growth which, increasingly destroys our environment and depletes resources.

    “required EROEI for sustaining the way we live” is the crux of it.
    “is met by the EROEI of (increasingly efficient) renewable power sources” we have yet to achieve. Lower prices is brought about by slave labour like conditions and increased toxic pollution in China.
    “build the solar plant with a positive EROEI” violates the laws of physics. Second law of thermodynamics.
    “return the energy invested given sufficient time”. Solar and wind energy collectors wear out or degrade long before the energy invested is returned.

    If some miracle solution is found, I will gladly rejoin the party but, it has to be found first.

    Cheers.

  26. Andreas Bimba

    Table 2 in the reference below originally provided by mechandy gives the EROI for wind turbines as 18 and for solar photovoltaic as 6 to 12. With modern advances and bigger production volumes these EROI figures will improve while fossil fuel sources will deteriorate as they are mostly mature technologies and the easily recoverable sources are depleted.

    http://www.dpuc.state.ct.us/DEEPEnergy.nsf/fb04ff2e3777b0b98525797c00471aef/a546c841171f7a8485257ac90053565a/$FILE/R.%20Fromer%20Attachment%20-%20EROI%20of%20Global%20Energy%20Resoruces.pdf

    @ Harquebus, on the matter of a carbon tax or ETS unfairly disadvantaging the poor, if the tax revenue was fully refunded to each citizen equally, as James Hansen recommended, then most poorer people would come out ahead. On the issue of toxic waste from making photovoltaic cells, these have been manufactured in Europe, Japan and the US in an environmentally responsible way for decades now.

    On the merits of a carbon tax and regulation in comparison to an ETS, the link below is worth reading.

    https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/59514

  27. Andreas Bimba

    The world is in serious and urgent danger from global warming and the actions of the current Abbott regime and similar governments represent criminal endangerment of all people and indeed the biosphere and all life on earth.

    We are already at 1 deg C global warming above pre-industrial levels but if we get to 2 deg C we can bid farewell to most of the world’s coastal cities as well as many entire ecosystems. Sea level rise of 5 to 9 m as well as massively powerful storms would be expected. Please read the attached article and the research paper by James Hansen and his colleagues.

    The way out? Reduce global carbon emissions by 6% each year and manage the biosphere such that it draws carbon down to 350 ppm levels or below through the early 22nd Century. To Hansen and colleagues this involves a scaling carbon fee and dividend or a similarly ramping carbon tax to rapidly dis-incentivize carbon use on a global scale.

    http://robertscribbler.com/2015/07/24/warning-from-scientists-halt-fossil-fuel-burning-fast-or-age-of-superstorms-3-20-feet-of-sea-level-rise-is-coming-soon/

    http://www.atmos-chem-phys-discuss.net/15/20059/2015/acpd-15-20059-2015.pdf

  28. eli nes

    if you want something to grow you must prepare the ground before you plant. Direct action cost and it is our tax that pays. Make a hypothetical case, if there are no real figures, but set an agenda for the rabbutt to answer.

  29. Harquebus

    Andreas Bimba
    Yes, solar panes have been manufactured responsibly in Europe etc. but, not at the costs, including environmental, that the Chinese can make them.
    I am suspicious of your EROEI figures and will check them out. Usually, in these calculations, the whole supply chain, the social needs and required infrastructure are not factored or conveniently omitted.
    I will read your link.
    Cheers

  30. Andreas Bimba

    @Keith Thanks for the important links in your post. I have been sharing them around and mistakenly did a round trip and posted them again here. We should all read these articles.

  31. Keith

    A video featuring Anton Vaks in relation to permafrost thawing; a scientific paper has been published. It is not good news in relation to the 2C target. The impact of permafrost thawing had not been taken into account by the IPCC.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N71YvYqJWQc

  32. Wally

    @Harquebus “Using costs to justify renewable energy is irrelevant”

    Comparing the cost of energy sourced from different types of generators is the only way we can make a value judgement, if it costs more to build a wind farm than it can return in sales value they would be a massive financial flop and they wouldn’t attract investor funding. If the same theory of overall cost you apply to renewable energy was applied to coal fired generators the same negative results would be the outcome. The coal fired power industry do not include the ongoing costs (mostly paid by governments) of repairing infrastructure from mines subsiding, underground fires that continue to burn and restoring land in depleted mines.

    Kaye Lee pointed out in an earlier comment incorrect figures quoted by Alan Jones and other pro LNP sources. Unfortunately it is very rare for people with vested interests to do a comparison on equal terms and the coal industry are proving they have similar morals to the asbestos and cigarette companies.

    You cannot categorically state where the power to manufacture renewable energy components is sourced from, when power enters the grid it is impossible to say what type of power is used where. Just as you assert that fossil fuels are used to build wind farms it could be said that renewable energy is used and considering the volume of renewable generated by Scandinavian countries it would be difficult to disprove.

    Norway is a heavy producer of renewable energy, first of all due to good resources in hydropower. Over 99% of the electricity production in mainland Norway is covered by hydropower plants. The total production of electricity from hydropower plants amounted to 135.3 TWh in 2007[1] There is also a large potential in wind power, offshore wind power[2] and wave power, as well as production of bio-energy from wood.[3] Norway has limited resources in solar energy, but is one of the world’s largest producers of solar grade silicon and silicon solar cells. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renewable_energy_in_Norway

    Sweden – Hydroelectric power accounts for more than half of energy production. More than 1900 power stations operate all over the country. Forty-five produce 100 MW and over, 17 produce 200 MW and over, and 6 produce 400 MW and over. The largest station, which is located on the upper Lule River, has a maximum production capacity of 977 MW. The Lule River is also the most productive river, with almost 18% of the Swedish installed effect. Almost all of the medium to large plants are located in northern Sweden. Solar power installations have historically been minimal, solar power has recently been growing quickly in Sweden with the country’s cumulative PV capacity nearly doubling in 2014 to 79 MW. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_in_Sweden

    Scandinavia has managed to reduce its carbon emissions and achieve considerable economic growth. As a result, countries like Denmark and Sweden have become some of the greenest in Europe. The exploitation of finite resources is a double-edged sword. Not only is it harming the planet for future generations, but it will also ultimately affect economic return. However some countries in Europe seem to have embraced the concept of sustainable economics and clean energy more than others. http://blueandgreentomorrow.com/features/clean-energy-scandinavian-nations/

    The three countries which had the highest share of renewable energy compared to total energy consumption were Sweden, Finland and Latvia, with 44.4 percent, 30.5 percent and 29.9 percent of renewable energy sources in total consumption respectively. http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/sweden-leads-the-european-union-on-renewable-energy-2026290.html

    Renewable energy is in the spotlight again in Australia, with the Renewable Energy Target under review. In Australia the focus seems always to be on electricity generation, which is only about 30 per cent of our energy, while heat and transport fuels tend to be overlooked. In the EU, the focus on reducing emissions of greenhouse gases deals with all three, and Sweden is particularly advanced in this. http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/ockhamsrazor/the-swedish-renewable-energy-model/5862724

    Harquebus the biggest issue with renewable energy is not developing the technology it is getting people to pull their heads out of the sand and stop being so bloody negative. Any improvement is a step in the right direction. You continually use the same arguments against renewable energy that are biased toward the interests of the coal companies. Sweden produces 50% of its power from renewables so you cannot assert that they need fossil fuels to build more renewable generation systems. For them fossil fuels are a stop gap that is necessary until they can develop more infrastructure to supply more renewable energy and you will note that this not only applies to electricity it also applies to transport.

    The references quoted above on energy usage in Scandinavia are not opinions or conjecture they are FACTS and given the performance to date there is no reason to doubt that future targets/ambitions will be achieved.

  33. Harquebus

    Wally.
    Thanks for your post.
    I’ll have a read, check out the links and respond later.
    Cheers.

  34. Wally

    @Harquebus “Yes, solar panes have been manufactured responsibly in Europe etc. but, not at the costs, including environmental, that the Chinese can make them.”

    China will not change until the rest of the world had led the way and made it a financial necessity to change.

    “in these calculations, the whole supply chain, the social needs and required infrastructure are not factored or conveniently omitted.”

    The same applies to fossil fuels in particular coal mining and as well as deaths there is a lot of health issues.

    Thousands of miners die from mining accidents each year, especially in the processes of coal mining and hard rock mining. Most of the deaths nowadays occur in developing countries, especially China and rural parts of developed countries. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mining_accident

  35. Harquebus

    Wally
    Comparing the cost of energy of energy is irrelevant. Costs of energy production regardless of the source is reliant on fossil fuels which, are still relatively cheap. The only exception which you have stated is hydro electricity which, scrapes the heat energy from millions of kilometers of ocean, transports it and funnels it through a turbine. This is the scale needed for renewables to be viable.
    If the same calculations were made using joules instead of dollars, the net result is a loss of energy, not a surplus.

    Carbon emissions and the energy used to manufacture, construct and maintain wind and solar collectors are rarely factored. There is nothing clean and green about solar Pv and wind turbines.

    Renewable generators do not return the energy used in their manufacture, construction and maintenance. Things to consider when factoring energy invested include the transport of everything throughout the extensive supply chain, the smelting of ores and silicon, the manufacture of consumables, plant and machinery, sustaining a workforce, raising families, providing essential services, education and the building and maintenance of associated infrastructure as well as all the electricity used in said supply chain etc. Without the still relatively cheap fossil fuels available to us, these devices would never be built. I say “still relatively cheap” because, a litre of fuel is approximately the energy equivalent of two weeks manual labour.

    I do not favor fossil fuels nor nuclear nor renewables. My preferred option and in my opinion, the only viable solution, is to reduce consumption and the corresponding environmental destruction through the controlled contraction of the economy and limiting populations to about 1/7th of what they are today.

    “As we all know, the biosphere or living mantle of the planet is being rapidly destroyed by this largest herd of mammals ever to graze it.”
    “We are already consuming 140 per cent of Earth’s sustainable living resources — that is, Earth’s natural living ecosystem is collapsing.”
    http://www.themercury.com.au/news/opinion/talking-point-human-herd-eating-the-planet/story-fnj4f64i-1227417085938

    Hope uhadagoodweegend.

  36. Wally

    @Harquebus

    “hydro electricity which, scrapes the heat energy from millions of kilometers of ocean, transports it and funnels it through a turbine” Do not know how or where your concept of Hydro power generation comes from????

    Typically hydro power is generated by releasing water stored in a dam to turn a turbine and it is one of the oldest and most efficient methods to create electricity. Yes there are some ocean type hydro generators but they are nowhere near as common as the typical hydro plants that have been common place for over a century.

    “This is the scale needed for renewables to be viable.If the same calculations were made using joules instead of dollars, the net result is a loss of energy, not a surplus.” You continue to use this line but as yet I have found no proof that this is correct and in per previous debate over this it was concluded that it is impossible to accurately measure how many joules are consumed to manufacture a wins farm BUT it is also impossible to do the same calculation for fossil fuel power plants. The only realistic measure is the profitability of a power plant.

    “Renewable generators do not return the energy used in their manufacture, construction and maintenance.” This statement is propaganda at best and I doubt it can be substantiated with facts. If we applied the same criteria to a coal fired power station it would also fail the test as there is the fuel used to mine the coal, the maintenance of associated infrastructure as well as all the petrol burnt by plant operators travelling to work and the natural gas used to heat their crib rooms.

    As I stated when the same rules are applied to comparing generators they all have the same failings.

    “I say “still relatively cheap” because, a litre of fuel is approximately the energy equivalent of two weeks manual labour.” What a ridiculous comparison, a litre of petrol would take a passenger in an extremely economical vehicle 25km but an unfit man could walk the same distance in 10 – 15 hours. Unless my math is wrong your energy theory is flawed. We typical relate to power(kw) instead of energy(joules) because energy measures the total quantity of work done, it doesn’t say how fast you can get the work done. It is pointless installing a heater that will take all winter before it heats up our home so power is a much more practical unit of measure for most purposes.

    I do not disagree with your philosophies in conserving fossil fuels and the damage being done to the planet but I believe that we need to exploit renewable energy sources to the max. If everyone used 15% of the fuel they currently use the planet wouldn’t be in such a precarious position but unfortunately I cannot see people of today going without or sacralising anything, in general it isn’t in Gen x or Gen Y’s makeup to do anything the hard way.

    I did have a good weekend despite it being so cold in Victoria, quite a shell shock after 5 weeks up north in Cape York.

    Hope you are snuggled up somewhere cosy.

  37. Harquebus

    Wally.

    Come on mate! Think about it. How does the water get to the dam?

    google: hydroelectricity water cycle

    You are right about energy used in the manufacturing process as incalculable. One can only factor so many variables. If you see the list of factors that I stated above, manufacture, education, infrastructure etc, tallying the energy used will far exceed the energy returned by wind and solar Pv. This is why they use costs and not all associated costs to measure the different performances but, those costs include the currently cheap energy dense fossil fuels which, after all are concentrated and stored solar energy.

    For EROEI on renewables, I try to think of every input that these renewables themselves must provide. From sandpit to rooftop and every process and aspect of society that must be maintained and sustained. Agriculture, education, transport, health, housing…. The list is huge and never fully calculated.

    When manufacturing renewable generators from renewable energy alone whilst maintaining a functioning society is attempted which, must include everything and has not been not done so far as I am aware, it will then be proved either way. Until then, my arguments are just as valid if not more so.
    The converse is, renewable advocates who want us to invest in this technology must prove that it can be done. When that happens, I will then and only then, concede.

    Try pushing a car at 60kph for 10 kilometers. A better analogy would be a mechanical digger. The hole dug on one litre of fuel will be about the same as one man with a shovel and 80 hours of work.

    A low carbon society is something that we both desire and I am sure that we can work together to try and achieve it however, I will not be supporting renewable energy until a positive return on energy is proved.

    This search provides arguments on both sides.
    google: renewable energy eroei

    “Also, there’s no single accepted way of calculating EROI, because it depends in part on what you count as an input.”
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/eroi-behind-numbers-energy-return-investment/

    The Myth of Technology and Sustainable Development
    http://media.medfarm.uu.se/play/video/5007/

  38. Wallquebus

    Forgive me, but I’ve been reading this discussion and I am troubled by some of the arguments used. Some of them conflict with my current worldview, so in the interest of continued learning, I’ll stick my neck out and ramble on thus:

    Has there been a proper Total Energy Audit (as I call it) for a typical domestic rooftop solar installation?

    I do know people in the nuclear industry who for several decades, have realised that the true “EROEI” for fission power plants is <80% efficient after 30 years, lets say we have a surplus of 25-12=13 years of production with (effectively) no input costs per kWh.

    So, worst case scenario, we have an EROEI of around about 2 over the lifetime of the system. Bonus points if the thing still works after 40 years like Schott panels have done.

    Coal/Gas:
    I’m lumping the two together because unburned natural gas (methane) leaks from large scale distribution networks is as bad as burning diamonds from a greenhouse perspective – and negates a lot of the benefits of having some H2O vs CO2 in the exhaust.

    PK never said it, but I’d say refining steel is a somewhere close to making silicon without all the electricity. The production of concrete, steel, aluminium, glass all requires the removal of Oxygen from something and the cheapest way to do it is to use coal.
    We have lots of coal atm.
    – and gas.
    The difference here is that unlike solar (or hydro) the operating input doesn’t just fall from the sky automagically for free. You have to dig it up, move it around, ruin landscapes – continuously…
    The true EROEI also needs to include the full energy cost in returning the places where these resources were extracted back to something close to what it was prior.
    These costs are I suggest at present unknown. The EROEI probably less than 1 in the long term – but it doesn’t really matter, because they are a finite resource that when burned, would ultimately destroy our home sometime before when they are generally recognised as being depleted.

    I say let’s burn as much carbon as is required to enable us to do all future refining with solar input. Use the gas and petroleum to make plastic, textiles and other things that we don’t plan on burning anytime soon.

    I have no idea where Elon Musk is expecting to get all that Lithium, but I suspect that SpaceX might be scouting for large Lithium asteroids to tow home!

  39. Wallquebus

    Erm, I learned something: Don’t use lessthan/greaterthan symbols. It messes thing up.
    Repasted from notepad. fml…

    Forgive me, but I’ve been reading this discussion and I am troubled by some of the arguments used. Some of them conflict with my current worldview, so in the interest of continued learning, I’ll stick my neck out and ramble on thus:

    Has there been a proper Total Energy Audit (as I call it) for a typical domestic rooftop solar installation?

    I do know people in the nuclear industry who for several decades, have realised that the true “EROEI” for fission power plants is much less than 1, when the total energy (not $$) cost of materials, energy, labour, education, food, whatever is taken into account.
    A major component of this is an allowance for the management of nuclear waste however. The ongoing cost of the raw material input is relatively small.

    Let’s compare this with renewables and carbon sourced energy.

    Small Scale Solar:
    Paul Keating once said that aluminium is “congealed electricity” – which could also be said of refined silicon. Both products require a lot of carbon emissions to produce.

    I was once told that a typical 190W solar panel was able to produce (repay) it’s embodied energy in a timeframe of roughly one year (The period that was quoted to me once was actually 9 months. I only remember this because it was the same as the monetary payback period as what a Williams pinball machine should make if sited correctly)
    Add all the racking (aluminium and SS bolts), copper, PVC, the inverter with all its plastic, gold, silver, tantalum, petrochemical derivatives, install training, labour, etc – shall we say that a domestic PV system has an EROEI payback period of say 8 years? – Make it 12?
    OK, so these systems last on average 25 years with one inverter replacement so, ignoring the fact that most panels will be more than 80% efficient after 30 years, lets say we have a surplus of 25-12=13 years of production with (effectively) no input costs per kWh.

    So, worst case scenario, we have an EROEI of around about 2 over the lifetime of the system. Bonus points if the thing still works after 40 years like Schott panels have done.

    Coal/Gas:
    I’m lumping the two together because unburned natural gas (methane) leaks from large scale distribution networks is as bad as burning diamonds from a greenhouse perspective – and negates a lot of the benefits of having some H2O vs CO2 in the exhaust.

    PK never said it, but I’d say refining steel is a somewhere close to making silicon without all the electricity. The production of concrete, steel, aluminium, glass all requires the removal of Oxygen from something and the cheapest way to do it is to use coal.
    We have lots of coal atm.
    – and gas.
    The difference here is that unlike solar (or hydro) the operating input doesn’t just fall from the sky automagically for free. You have to dig it up, move it around, ruin landscapes – continuously…
    The true EROEI also needs to include the full energy cost in returning the places where these resources were extracted back to something close to what it was prior.
    These costs are I suggest at present unknown. The EROEI probably less than 1 in the long term – but it doesn’t really matter, because they are a finite resource that when burned, would ultimately destroy our home sometime before when they are generally recognised as being depleted.

    I say let’s burn as much carbon as is required to enable us to do all future refining with solar input. Use the gas and petroleum to make plastic, textiles and other things that we don’t plan on burning anytime soon.

    [joke]
    I have no idea where Elon Musk is expecting to get all that Lithium, but I suspect that SpaceX might be scouting for large Lithium asteroids to tow home!
    [\joke]

  40. OzFenric

    Wallquebus, welcome to the discussion and thank you for putting in the time and thought to the numbers. People here (myself included) bandy about assertions like popcorn. A common one you’ll hear is “renewable energy generators do not return their energy invested” but rarely are figures provided to support that statement. Your voice of reason is a welcome one. I have been of a similar opinion to you for a long time but as you’ve found, actual numbers on lifetime EROEI are hard to come by.

  41. Harquebus

    EROEI is difficult to calculate because, it is embedded in every non-natural thing that you can see around you, how it got there, the food on your plate, education, health etc. It must include every processed item and service that modern society provides.
    I can only say, look at each item around you and imagine the whole process from raw material to final destination, the energy needed to do it and the energy needed to provide the energy needed.
    Typically, positive EROEI calculations are limited in their scope.
    Imagine the hoohah if MSM disclosed that renewables are a waste of time. Political and engineering careers would be ruined.
    Cheers.

  42. Wally

    @Wallquebus thanks for the figures that prove renewable energy does generate more energy than what is consumed creating the generation devices. When recycling of the aluminium, copper and gold is considered the benefits are probably better than your estimate.

    @Harquebus you still have not conceded that your assertion that “renewable energy generators do not return their energy invested” has been proven to be incorrect by Wallquebus.

    And water gets in the dams from rainfall that is due to evaporation caused by our atmosphere.

  43. Harquebus

    The EROI calculations in this article, as far as I can tell, do not include social services and infrastructure.
    “Models often limit their life cycle or EROI analysis to just the solar panels themselves, which represents only a third of the overall energy embodied in solar PV plants.”
    “It’s more of a “fossil-fuel extender” because PV can’t replicate itself, let alone provide energy beyond that to human society.”
    http://energyskeptic.com/2015/tilting-at-windmills-spains-solar-pv/

  44. Harquebus

    “Windmills are too dependent on oil, from mining and fabrication to delivery and maintenance and fail the test of “can they reproduce themselves with wind power?””
    “Not only would windmills have to generate enough power to reproduce themselves, but they have to make enough power to run civilization.”
    “If the energy costs of intermittency, back-up conventional plant, and grid connection were added to the “cost” of windfarms, the EROEI would be far lower than current EROEI studies show.”
    http://energyskeptic.com/2015/wind/

  45. Wally

    @Harquebus I don’t think it would matter what arguments or facts are put forward you are unwilling to accept that you could be wrong. I live in hope that one day you will be proven wrong, not to stick it up you but for the sake of future generations.

  46. Harquebus

    Wally
    I will be glad if I am proven wrong as well as it will mean that I can rejoin the party. Unfortunately, physics is on my side.
    Cheers.

  47. OzFenric

    Okay. If we accept two premises from the outset, the argument changes.
    1. There are too many humans. Quite apart from energy scarcity, we have too many people for our food, minerals, and other required resources to be sustainable. A correction is coming. Likely this will be quite unpleasant, as millions – or billions – of people die of starvation or other climate-change related effects. The amount of energy required to sustain the human population will decline markedly as a result.
    2. Current society is profligate in its energy use and unavoidable changes in the way we live are coming. Distributed energy generation, critical mass of renewable energy in the energy generation pipeline, energy efficient transport and entertainment etc., will increase as exhorbitant lifestyles decline in both scope and profligacy. Together these will reduce the amount of energy required by our society. Some people at the top of the chain might find this challenging as their gluttonous lifestyles might not be supported by renewable energy – perhaps explaining why they’re so anxious to prevent the changes coming. But most people who survive into the next century will benefit from them.
    I do not seek to challenge the idea that our society has grown to a point where it uses all the energy that fossil fuels can provide (and goes into energy debt on the deal) – even understanding that a large and increasing amount of that energy release goes into producing the energy in the first place. But society can adapt to a point where renewables will suffice. Society *must* adapt to this point; there is no alternative. The main question becomes how do we manage and encourage that transition before climate change kills us all?

  48. Harquebus

    Good post ozfrenic and can not argue with most of it.
    Resource depletion will cause a lot of problems but, in the end, it might just be what saves us.

    “The only thing I could think of to console them was to say that running out of fossil fuels was a good thing — we will soon be forced by geological shortages and consequent political unrest to stop burning so much fossil fuel, which means better odds we and many other species won’t be driven extinct from climate change.”
    http://energyskeptic.com/2015/climate-change-deniers/

    No second guesses as to which site I am currently browsing.
    http://energyskeptic.com/category/energy/alternative-energy-energy/

    My current understanding is, if we stop all fossil fuel consumption now, we will still have to endure 4decC or more of warming and for millennia to come.

    We can let things take their natural course or we can intervene. The end result will be the same; less people. Let’s hope it does not result in no people.

    Cheers.

  49. Wally

    @Harquebus I have just had a very quick read of this article and I find some of the content to be very disturbing.

    http://energyskeptic.com/2015/geothermal/

    Many of the problems cited in the article are specific to America and in outback Australia we have natural hot springs that bring hot water to the surface so using the hot water to our benefit does not create any more sulphur or undesirable emission beyond what is emitted now.

    When you are tapping into a free source of energy what relevance does its efficiency have? Really if I have to use some of the energy generated to increase the temperature of the water who cares the energy has zero cost. Birdsville in Queensland power is provided by a geo thermal power plant and I believe it also provides hot water for the town.

    “Ergon Energy’s geothermal power station is one of the few low-temperature geothermal power stations in the world and is located in Birdsville, about 1,600km west of Brisbane, on the edge of the Simpson Desert. The power station is not connected to the national electricity grid, but instead supplies into Birdsville’s isolated mini grid.

    The energy comes from the near-boiling water taken from the Great Artesian Basin at a depth of 1,280 metres. This hot bore water provides a ‘free’ energy resource which would otherwise be wasted when the water is cooled before use.

    Geothermal power provides approximately 30% of the annual electricity needs of Birdsville. Operating the geothermal power station:
    •Reduces diesel consumption by about 130,000 litres per year1
    •Saves about 375 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year1.

    A major advantage of geothermal energy over other renewable sources, is that the energy source is continuously available, providing maximum power production. In Birdsville’s case, this minimises fossil fuel use in the adjacent diesel power station.”

    https://www.ergon.com.au/network/network-management/network-infrastructure/renewable-energy-sources

  50. Harquebus

    Wally
    Thanks for that link. I hadn’t got to that one yet.

    The common theme seems to be entropy. Once energy input for maintenance stops, decay and corrosion take over and destroy the infrastructure. Ongoing maintenance for wind and solar Pv seem to be underestimated by most advocates.

    In the case of geothermal, it appears to have the same problems as solar plants and windfarms and that is, of distance and lifespan.

    Can the population of Birdsville support the cost of initial geothermal infrastructure and ongoing maintenance in the wake of decaying economies/depleting fossil fuels? A minimum surplus must be obtained to maintain the infrastructure and to provide the services that our modern society requires. If it can’t do that then, it is pretty much a waste of time and energy.

    Free energy still requires collecting and that takes energy. EROEI. As the article states, corrosion requires constant maintenance and toxic compounds require extra processing.

    Keith.
    I am also aware of James Hansen’s claims and have been for some time. Let’s hope that his latest report attracts some headlines.

    Articles that I have read recently.
    http://www.onearth.org/earthwire/james-hansen-sea-level-rise
    http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2015/07/20/sea_level_study_james_hansen_issues_dire_climate_warning.html
    http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/breakfast/two-degrees-of-global-warming-is-not-safe/6444698
    http://rabett.blogspot.com.au/2015/05/why-jim-hansen-worries.html

    Cheers.

  51. Harquebus

    Thanks mate.
    I had never heard of ARM.
    Cheers.

  52. jack

    the big lies started on September 11, 2001…
    and they have been getting better ever since.

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